We all know pancakes, French toast, and mini muffins are kiddie classics, but how about leveling up your toddler's breakfast game in a nutritious way? Because, let's face it, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it a healthy slam dunk?
Check out these 12 expert-approved breakfast ideas for toddlers that are not only delicious but also loaded with the good stuff to kick-start their day.
Alyssa Pacheo, RD, a registered dietitian, says that oatmeal is one of the breakfast options for toddlers since it contains essential iron. "Oatmeal is an iron-rich breakfast option to boost iron levels in toddlers," Pacheo tells Today's Parent.
"Add some maple syrup and raisins for some added sweetness if your toddler prefers that — the raisins add some additional iron." Plus, oats bring more to the table, like essential fiber, zinc, and magnesium, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Pacheo says that yogurt is another easy and healthy breakfast idea. It's not only packed with nutrients but also incredibly versatile and enjoyable, making it a win-win for both parents and kids.
"Choosing a whole milk Greek yogurt will provide protein, fat, and a great source of calcium and vitamin D," says Pacheo. "Try it with apple slices and a dollop of nut butter for a balanced breakfast."
For mini foodies who love a savory breakfast, Yelena Wheeler, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the National Coalition on Health Care, recommends serving up a charcuterie breakfast board to get their day off to a delicious start.
"It's not just a fun way to up their protein game, but also a sly trick to ensure they get their daily dose of fruity goodness," says Wheeler. "By combining healthy finger foods like whole grain crackers, cheese slices, turkey slices, bananas, and strawberries on a charcuterie board, you can easily incorporate fat, protein, and fiber-filled carbohydrates into a breakfast plate."
When it comes to healthy breakfast ideas for toddlers, cereal might not be your go-to, but fear not. According to Wheeler, some sugary scrutiny and fiber focus can turn that bowl of goodness into a healthy start to the day.
"Cereals with no added sugar and fiber content above three grams per serving are a great food to have in the morning," Wheeler tells Today's Parent. "Consuming it with low-fat milk or milk alternative and some cut-up fruit on the side is a great way to obtain fiber, protein, and fat."
If you aim to sneak some veggies into your kids' breakfast, why not try omelets? According to Wheeler, they're a great way to pack in essential protein, healthy fiber, and fat from added veggies, making for a well-rounded breakfast for toddlers.
"Omelets with added chopped vegetables are a great way to ensure that your toddler is receiving adequate protein and a healthy source of fat and fiber from the vegetables," says Wheeler.
Okay, we can almost hear you thinking, how on earth can waffles or pancakes be a healthy toddler breakfast idea? Well, according to registered dietitian Jen House, RD, MSc, it's doable. Just make sure your pancake or waffle mixes are packed with protein.
"Some pre-mixed pancake or waffle mixes are higher protein (like Kodiak)," House tells Today's Parent. "Or you can make a DIY mix with added skim milk or collagen powder for an extra protein punch."
Kids love to eat food using their hands, which is why breakfast quesadillas are one of the best breakfast ideas. "Quesadillas are the perfect foundation to add protein and vegetables," says registered dietitian Jonathan Valdez, MBA, RDN, CDN, CCM, CDCES, ACE-CPT. "The cheese provides protein and fat, and the peppers give fiber, vitamin C to protect from illnesses, and vitamin A for eye, skin, and teeth health."
Although baked oatmeal is considered a classic and healthy breakfast for kids, overnight oats may offer your toddler a novel way to experience the benefits of oats. Pediatric dietitian Arielle Lebovitz, MS, RDN, CSSD, and CDCES, says overnight oats are a great nutrient-dense breakfast option for toddlers, providing four grams of fiber per half-cup serving.
"This helps alleviate constipation, which is common in toddlerhood," she explains. To make overnight oats kid-friendly, Lebovitz suggests deciding whether to serve them warm or cold first. "Thereafter, allow your children to enjoy selecting their preferred garnishes, such as crunchy almond butter, chopped coconut, or fresh fruit," she continues.
Ever thought of elevating your toddler's breakfast with a dollop of cream cheese? Lebovitz swears by it, highlighting its role in fueling brain development and aiding vitamin uptake. Cream cheese is also versatile – it pairs perfectly with bagels, can be whipped into fruit and cream cheese pinwheels, or even folded into scrambled eggs for a luxurious and delicious variation, as explained by Lebovitz.
However, despite its creamy appeal, cream cheese may lack a strong flavor. The solution? According to Lebovitz, adding a hint of chives or basil to cream cheese will transform it into a flavorful experience for your young child.
Just like cream cheese, Lebovitz suggests that cottage cheese is as nutritious as it is versatile. "Cottage cheese packs 13 grams of protein in each ½ cup serving, meeting almost 93 percent of a toddler’s daily protein needs," she explains.
Lebovitz recommends spicing up cottage cheese with mashed banana or finely chopped strawberries for a dose of natural sweetness and vitamins, then finish with a touch of cinnamon for good measure. However, if your kids are still learning to like the texture of the soft, lumpy curds in cottage cheese, you can also add cottage cheese to smoothies, smoothie bowls, or pancake batter.
Forget being tasty; Lebovitz says peanut butter is a nutritional bonanza for the little ones. "Peanut butter is a great breakfast addition for toddlers, packing nutrition and flavor," she tells Today's Parent.
"I love adding one to two tablespoons of peanut butter to breakfast because it adds long-lasting energy from protein and fat without much volume." There's also an additional benefit to feeding peanut butter to youngsters: according to Lebovitz, introducing peanut butter to your toddler at a young age can prevent allergies.
Describing it as a toddler breakfast game-changer, Lebovitz touts chia pudding for its creamy, flavorful, and nutrition-rich qualities, perfect for shaking up your kid's morning routine. "Chia pudding is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, crucial for brain development, and provides a significant amount of calcium for strong bones and teeth, in addition to being loaded with antioxidants," explains Lebovitz.
"Just two tablespoons of chia seeds meet 1/3 of your child’s protein needs and over half of their daily fiber intake in one delicious breakfast." To prepare chia pudding at home, Lebovitz advises mixing a can of coconut milk with six tablespoons of chia seeds and a sweetener such as maple syrup or honey.
Next, chill the mixture for a minimum of two hours, and finally, garnish with fresh fruit and either sunflower seeds or sliced almonds (appropriate for individuals aged two years and older).
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